– The Middle Tennessee softball team (22-28, 5-18 C-USA) bounced back after a game one loss with an impressive 6-1 victory over conference rival WKU (30-12, 15-5 C-USA) Saturday afternoon at Blue Raider Softball Field.
MT fell in game one, 3-0, before the game-two victory. With the win, MT snaps a seven-game slide against the Hilltoppers, and the first win since 2012.
Sophomore Megan Chocallo
and Junior Kelci Cheney
both pitched solid contests as each tossed complete games, with Chocallo earning her fifth win of the season in game two.
It wasn't until the second game the bats came alive, picking up nine hits and six runs. Junior Megan Griffith
led the team with four RBIs, which came on a pinch-hit grand slam, and junior Carlie Jenkins
came away with a pair of RBIs while recording her second home run of the season.Game One: Western Kentucky – 3 Middle Tennessee – 0 Starters: Cor'Nisha Birdsong
(CF), Alma Cortez
(LF), Carlie Jenkins
(1B), Morgan Harris
(C), Samantha Nieves
(SS), Megan Griffith
(DP), Kristin Uselton
(3B), Austyn Whaley
(2B), Kiarra Freeman
(RF), Kelci Cheney
The Blue Raider offense went silent in the first game of the series against WKU's Miranda Kramer, who showed why she leads the nation in strikeouts, strikeouts per game and hits allowed per game as well.
Middle Tennessee would get on base thanks to Jenkins getting beaned in the bottom of the first, and Harris reaching base getting hit by a pitch later in the game, but both wouldn't advance any further.
Freeman did make it first by recording a walk and advancing on a wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth, but MT couldn't advance her home.
The Hilltoppers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first before adding on another run in the following inning to go up, 2-0. WKU took advantage of two MT miscues in the inning to add a run in the scoring column.
While already leading 2-0, the Hilltoppers tacked on another to go in front, 3-0, before eventually winning the first contest.
Despite the setback, Cheney pitched a solid effort for her second-straight complete game, allowing just three runs (two earned) on nine hits.
The Terrell, Texas native has allowed just eight runs in her last seven appearances.
Kramer also pitched a complete-game, allowing no hits and no runs to improve to 21-8 on the season for the visitors. Game 2: Middle Tennessee – 6 Western Kentucky – 1Starters:
Birdsong (CF), Cortez (LF), Jenkins (1B), Harris (C), Nieves (SS), Riddell (DP), Uselton (3B), Whaley (2B) Freeman (RF), Chocallo (P)
The Blue Raiders made up for the game one loss in the second contest, thanks in large part to a pinch-hit grand slam to centerfield by Griffith that set the tone for the rest of the game.
Back-to-back singles by Nieves and Riddell put pressure on the WKU defense. Following an illegal pitch that advanced Nieves and Riddell, Uselton drew a walk to load the bases before a groundout brought up Griffith in the pinch-hit situation.
Middle Tennessee didn't stop there as it was Jenkins' turn to get in on the action. The lefty pulled a bomb to right field to give the Blue Raiders a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the third frame.
With the 5-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth, MT put up another run in the score column off a fielder's choice RBI from Jenkins to plate Freeman.
Freeman led off the inning with a single followed by another single from Birdsong put two on with no outs. Cortez would step up with a nice sac-bunt to move both runners over, setting up Jenkins in the next at-bat.
It wasn't just the bats that were clicking for the Blue Raiders as Chocallo pitched perhaps her best game of the season. The right-hander pitched a career-high seven innings for the complete game to improve to 5-5 on the season, allowing just one run and scattering four hits.
Chocallo fell into a groove during the contest, allowing her defense to make plays behind her and force WKU to go hitless through four straight innings at one point.
The Hilltoppers would score a run to cut the lead to five, 6-1, but it wasn't enough as the Blue Raiders eventually secured the game two victory.
Griffith paced the team with a career-high four RBIs and her first home run in epic fashion in an MT uniform, while Jenkins finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a homer. Birdsong and Nieves both recorded a pair of hits, and Riddell notched a single as well.
Nieves, who over the past four years has anchored the left side of the infield for MT, set the new program record for all-time assists with 502, surpassing Brittany Banania's record of 494 from 2008-2011.
The Blue Raiders will look for their first series win over WKU since 2010 tomorrow at noon. MT will honor seniors, Alma Cortez
, Samantha Nieves
and Caitlin McClure
for their dedication and commitment to the MT softball program. Festivities will start at 11:45 a.m.